28-year-old Clark freshman is mom, model and basketball player

Tanya Martin is a Hudson's Bay graduate

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 
photoTanya Martin, Clark College basketball player who also doubles as a model for Nike and others

Time. We are all tied to time. Somehow, some way.

We complain that there's never enough of it. We wonder where it went, gone, never to return.

Tanya Martin has defeated time. She scoffs at its attempt to slow her down. She is too busy with her life.

Basketball season is over now for the Clark College women's team. The Penguins just finished a successful season with a sixth-place finish at the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges tournament.

Martin was a key contributor to the squad, averaging 25 minutes and 4.8 points a game as a 28-year-old freshman.

It's not that Martin came late to college basketball. She was right on time, scheduling her hoops dream around so many other things in her life.

She is a mom and a wife. She holds a full-time job and is a full-time student. She is the legal guardian to her nephew. As one of her passions, she coaches her 9-year-old daughter's basketball team. As one of her hobbies, she models sports fashion gear for Nike and other well-known brands.

"I'm pretty sure I have ADHD," she says proudly, joking about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

"Times two," her husband, Eugene, adds.

Tanya Martin said she smiles to herself when she hears people complain about the pressures associated with the clock.

"You do have the time. You just don't do the things you can do with your time," she said. "I don't judge other people for what they do. I just know it's a normal day for me."

The norm this basketball season was a 6 a.m. wake-up to get herself ready for the day and take her daughter Jaydia to school. Then Martin would go to her job as a financial analyst with Child Protective Services. She would leave work at 2:30 p.m. for basketball practice. Some evenings, she would go from her practice to Jaydia's practice, to coach. Then it would be home for a late dinner. And, oh yes, then online classes.

"I watch her, and I'm tired just from watching her," Eugene Martin said.

For basketball road trips, Martin took advantage of the time in the van to get caught up on her computer classes -- 12 credits this quarter at Clark.

Martin said she has a lot of support, making it easier to add basketball to an already complex schedule. Her work at CPS has been flexible and supportive. She said her husband plays mom. A long-time friend, Laurie Brown, looks after Jaydia, too.

"We kind of pick up the slack a little bit, but she's still in the groove," Eugene said.

"If I did what she was doing, I'd come home …" Eugene says, making growling noises. "I'd be barking at people. She handles it pretty well."

Eugene said he is laid back, while Tanya is "let's go, let's go." That is why they are perfect for one another. The two have been together since Tanya's freshman year at Hudson's Bay High School.

Tanya was Tanya Jackson when she played for the Eagles, graduating in 2002. The plan then was to attend Lower Columbia College in Longview and play basketball. But Tanya and Eugene welcomed Jaydia, and college had to wait.

Always around basketball

Basketball did not, however.

"I just continued to play. Jaydia grew up on the basketball court," Martin said. "It's just in the family. Women's league. Men's league. Pick-up games."

Martin even organizes a women's league in Portland. You know, because she has so much time on her hands.

Over the years, she took some college classes -- courses she needed for her job. But the goal has always been to get her associate's degree. Basketball could help with that objective.

The sport was a way to motivate her to stay on target. It could also help pay for tuition. College athletes must be full-time students. Without basketball, it would have been too easy for her to just take a course here and there.

"I just figured I really needed to get it done," she said.

So she inquired if it was even possible. An advisor told her probably not, because of all of the things on her plate and the basketball team's rigid schedule.

Martin said she is grateful she asked one more person's opinion.

Clark coach Al Aldridge was on board if Martin was willing to give it a go. She joined the team in December.

"He's been awesome. He's been very easy in that sense," Martin said.

Because of her job, she would arrive at practice about 20 minutes late every day.

"He had a saying for me," Martin said of Aldridge. " 'As soon as you can get here.'"

Aldridge said it was an easy decision.

"Have her the majority of practice or don't have her at all," he said.

Bonding with teammates

Still, Martin also had to convince her teammates that she was worthy of that different treatment.

"I tried to see it from their perspective. Would they be angry? Happy? None of them made me feel unwelcome," she said.

Aldridge said he liked Martin's leadership skills. He wanted someone with a little more life experience on the team.

"She just brought a calmness and a fresh, mature opinion about things," he said. "She bonded with the kids, and they immediately respected her."

At practice, she was called "Grandmama," because she was the old lady on the team.

That old lady also had to convince herself.

"I was a little hesitant at first. Maybe I took on more than I can handle," she recalled. "Not being there for 10 years, and then going into it full force, just being thrown into the wolves. It was intimidating at first.

"But I can't ever not finish something. It's always best to make the best of every situation."

By the end of the season, Martin said she enjoyed the experience more than she anticipated she would. While her teammates are younger, they found plenty of things in common. She expects to stay in touch with them long after their playing days are done.

Martin said she will continue to work toward her degree in marketing but has not yet committed to playing next year. She and the family will have to determine if they can handle another whirlwind winter.

Regardless, they did make a lot of memories this season.

Eugene and Tanya often play together in pick-up games, but Eugene said it was a thrill to watch his wife play college ball.

Jaydia, meanwhile, was a hit with the Penguins. She sang the national anthem before her mom's last home game.

Eugene and Tanya also have opened their home to nephew Michael Chavez, a 16-year-old who attends Fort Vancouver High School. Chavez said he appreciates the stable home, calling his aunt and uncle "great parents to me."

He has learned from Martin that drive and commitment can lead to so many great things.

Break into modeling

Martin also was at the right place at the right time when she was 21 years old, walking around at a mall. A talent agent spotted her, liked her athletic look, and asked if she would be willing to become a model.

For years now, she has been in Nike ad campaigns, Fred Meyer marketing, and other name outfits. She also has found herself in the random brochure once in a while because some of her images are in stock files.

"It's pretty ridiculous what they pay," she said, almost embarrassed to talk about the high rate.

Yet she wants to keep modeling as a hobby. She said it would be too stressful for modeling to be her lone source of income.

She also has "dragged" Eugene into the business. He has been in a commercial with LeBron James, although the two never met.

All of this made possible by a talented woman with a will.

"I just love to be busy," Martin said. "If I'm not doing one thing, I'm doing another. If it wasn't basketball, I'd be on a modeling job, or going to my daughter's games, or going to other sports stuff."

Or work.

Or school.

Or wherever life takes her.

That's because she has made a point to make time for all that is important to her.